Drunkard’s Walk

This is an English country dance for 4 couples called Drunkard’s Walk. There are two slightly different videos below. I hope you’ll give this a read.
(jump to dance instructions.)

The tune, also called Drunkard’s Walk, is by Dave Wiesler (1997). He wrote the tune for the mathematical problem (something involving randomness and probability), while I, not a mathematician, took the title at face value (drunk people stumbling). 😂

I first started working on this dance on July 11, 2018, and it had been dogging me for four years! (Well, including the quiet pandemic years, when I couldn’t really do anything with it.) I had a hard time getting the last figure to work with the timing, particularly while keeping the theme of drunk people in a tavern stumbling around. (I didn’t know anything about the mathematical problem until one of the testing sessions.) There was one horrendous testing session where the suggestions from dancers were to remove that weaving figure altogether, which to me was the defining figure of the dance. I certainly didn’t want to do that, so I knew I had to find another solution.

I finally figured out the ending, with a lot of help from my husband Alex Bradley, on Sunday, May 15, 2022. We tested this 8th and more or less final version at the Dance Kitchen* on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, and were all so thrilled that it actually works! And feels (and looks) pretty good! So exciting. You can hear the cheers at the end, not to mention the relief in my voice as I’m calling. 🙂

Drunkard’s Walk (penultimate version), filmed at the Dance Kitchen on May 17, 2022, at Skandia Hall, Pasadena, California.

* The Dance Kitchen is a monthly gathering of dancers in Pasadena (part of Darlene Hamilton’s Historical Tea & Dance Society) where callers can practice and choreographers can try out new dances. It’s so great to have a regular group of excellent dancers to help with stuff like this! They’ve been a big reason I’ve been so productive lately. Thanks to all the wonderful dancers, especially (in this video): Laura Riley, Alex Bradley, Chris Yoder (and me), Jeff Spero, Lindsay Verbil, Katy Muzikar, and Larry Tannenbaum. Filmed May 17, 2022, at Skandia Hall in Pasadena, CA.

My friend and mentor, James Hutson, suggested that I find other groups of experienced dancers to try out the dance again and make sure it feels good. I had a wonderful opportunity to do that, with some really incredible dancer/caller/choreographers, at the Hey Days English dance week in June 2022, at Sonoma State (in Northern California). They made an additional suggestion, adding in a balance back before the Clink, so that the Clink moves a little faster. They loved it! I also have them taking hands on the fall back, which I think looks so great. So this is more the final version. 🙂 Huge thanks to my dancers: Kalia Kliban, Bridget Whitehead, Cat Fox, Kennith Grotjohn, Alan Winston, Chris Sackett, Rachel Pusey, and Dilip Sequeira.

Drunkard’s Walk, danced at Hey Days English dance week on June 16, 2022, at Sonoma State University.

Thanks to everyone who has helped with various versions of this dance over the years! I’m so glad to have it done and finally out into the world. 🙂

Drunkard’s Walk

An English Country Dance by Renée Camus
©July 11, 2018
Final Version: July 18, 2022
Tune: Drunkard’s Walk, by Dave Wiesler, 1997

4-couple longways set
AAB 4x (A=8, B=16 mm)
6/8 (dotted quarter = 108)

A11-41s “cascade” or “Falling Star” progress their way down the set to the bottom:
1s and 2s set, facing on the diagonal, and R-hand star halfway.
5-81s and 3s set (on the diagonal), and L-hand star halfway.
A21-41s and 4s set (on the diagonal), and R-hand star halfway.
5-8Partners set and 2-hand turn halfway to change places.
(Finish couples 2, 3, 4, 1, all proper.)
B1-2Top 2 couples and bottom 2 couples circle 4-hands Left, halfway.
(Finish 3, 2, 1, 4 improper.)
3-4Take hands in lines of four and fall back.
5-6All come forward setting.
7-8Middle couples (2s and 1s) link (turn single R to change places) WHILE ends
(3s and 4s) turn single. (Finish 3, 1, 2, 4 improper.)
9All balance back (step, close) to face diagonal, then…
10-12Top 2 couples and bottom 2 couples “Clink”: simultaneous
Hole in the Wall cross halfway (R-shoulder). (Finish 1, 3, 4, 2 proper.)
13-16Weave: Neighbors face (1s face 3s, 4s face 2s) and do three
changes of a hey for 4 passing R-shoulder to start (2 beats per pass;
Finish 2, 3, 4, 1). (Ends weave to the opposite end, while middles
loop back to where they were.)

Repeat with new top couple.

Teaching notes:

  • In the Cascading stars (A1-A2), release hands on counts 7-8 for an easier transition into the next star. The “cascading” couple can turn either way when transitioning from one star to the next.
  • B 5-8: For the middles it’s a Set and Link, though they’re moving forward on the set. For the ends, it’s set and turn single, moving forward on the set.
  • B 10-12: “Clink” is known as “Clump” in other dances (e.g., Bluebonnets), and it’s a simultaneous Hole in the Wall cross. I like the term Clink for this dance because it ties in with the theme of drinkers at a pub having a toast. You always Clink with the same group
    of four.
  • B 13-16: Weave: Ends pass 3 people to switch places (top finishes at bottom; bottom finishes at top). Middles pass one, loop, and pass one to end where they started. Everyone weaves on their own side. You always start the weave with the same neighbor, the one you clinked with.
Drunkard's Walk instructions page 1
Click to download the music for Drunkard’s Walk.
Click to download instructions for Drunkard’s Walk.

See more of my English country dance choreographies.

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